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‘Referendum doubtful’

CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga says Zimbabwe is unlikely to hold a referendum on the new Copac draft this year as haggling among coalition partners means the document cannot be taken to the second All Stakeholders’ Conference before consensus.

Report by Faith Zaba/Paidamoyo Muzulu
Matinenga told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview that as long as the process has not been agreed by the three political parties, the draft would not be taken to the conference.

“We cannot proceed to the second stakeholders’ conference without getting all things in order,” said Matinenga. “We need to get all our ducks in a row before then otherwise we would get nothing out of it.”

In terms of the GPA Article VI, the draft should now be taken to the second stakeholders’ conference and then parliament. The draft may be amended at both stages thus cooperation and consensus among the parties is paramount.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday agreed that they must consult Copac on the future of the constitution-making process ahead of the second all-stakeholders’ conference.
Matinenga could not rule out the possibility of parties manipulating the outcome of the stakeholders’ conference to suit their interests.

The two MDC formations have vowed not to reopen negotiations with Zanu PF over its proposed amendments to the draft.

Zanu PF wants any reference to devolution completely removed from the draft. It also wants the imperial presidency retained; the running mates clause removed and key state appointments to be the prerogative of the president, among other things.

Matinenga said the process has become a charade because the draft has not been tabled for discussion in cabinet since it was released on July 18.
“The issue (draft constitution) in the main has been removed from the government work programme and it’s only being played out at a political level,” said Matinenga.

He ruled out the possibility of two drafts being taken to a referendum, saying this would spark violence along party lines.

Meanwhile, the Zanu PF politburo insists it would continue pushing for its amendments to be inserted into the draft and said if the principals do not reach consensus, the party would take the national statistical report to the stakeholders’ conference for them to decide.

The politburo resolved last week to allow the Copac draft to be taken to the conference without the party’s proposed 266 amendments. It also wants the national statistical report to be published in all media and copies given to delegates at the second all stakeholders’ conference.

Contrary to assertions that this was a climb-down by Zanu PF, party insiders said the game was not yet over as they would still push for the incorporation of their amendments during the principals’ meetings, the stakeholder’s conference and in parliament.

“Our position has not changed,” a politburo source said. “We will not support a draft that does not incorporate our amendments. There are still stages during which we can ensure that the amendments are incorporated. People are forgetting that you need a two-thirds majority vote in parliament — so we need each other at the end of the day.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party has not conceded defeat.“The principals are consulting now and the draft will be taken to the second stakeholder’s conference. It must be made abundantly clear that the draft and the national statistical report should be given to the people so that they have an opportunity to evaluate and assess whether what was said during the outreach meetings is incorporated in the draft,” he said.

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